Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Cruel Ever After
by Ellen Hart
A Minotar (St. Martin’s Press)
2010 release. Hard cover, 320 pgs.
This, Hart’s nineteenth Jane Lawless mystery, is probably the darkest and most shocking of the series. Difficult to read it is chock full of, painful, difficult relationships and actions. The extensive cast of characters, many of whom fans will have met before, are almost all revealed to have seriously dangerous dark sides. And even when those troublesome and even illegal dimensions of their characters are revealed and confronted by other individuals in the book, they persist in their ways, ways that sometimes tread close to the abyss.
The shocks begin very early when Lawless’s former husband, a man she hasn’t seen for twenty years, appears in Minneapolis. Not only are we more than a little surprised to discover that Jane was married many years ago, she is upset by his appearance, supposedly ‘simply for old times sake.’ It becomes quickly apparent that Chester Garrity, one of the most facile liars and con men you’ll ever meet, has a specific personal agenda. Garrity is a user of anybody and everybody within reach. That he is such, should, it seems to this reader, to be more apparent to Jane than appears to be the case.
That Garrity is also fairly incompetent also becomes obvious. Part of the tragedy is that his incompetence visits appalling harm on the people around him. Almost immediately plans go awry and spiral out of control. Murder results. Garrity demonstrates such a high level of impotence in the face of disaster that it is hard to believe he has managed to stay alive and out of prison for this long.
At roughly the same time that Garrity begins his ill-managed plan to sell antiquities of questionable provenance, a lethal cabal of shadowy vigilantes makes its presence known by murdering a popular gallery owner.
Is there a link here? Of course there is, but readers will require almost infinite patience to figure out the links and resolve the tangle of threads and relationships. Patience is particularly important in the first half of the book. After that, with the background and setup in place, the action and the pace pick up. Logic takes firm hold and as the complications and resolutions of the many plot lines become clearer, the author’s grip on her story becomes firmer. The second half of the novel as revelation bangs in on top of revelation and explanation explodes, is all vintage Hart, an excellent writer who is almost always in full command of her work.
There were times however, when I wanted to scream at Jane Lawless, and wondered who was really managing that usually incisive and clever mind.
Devils Island, Bloody Halls, Reunion, Red Sky
more at Kindle, Smashwords & OmniLit!
All my life I was told I had writing talent. I went to a good college and studied writing with excellent instructors. Then I spent three decades teaching others about writing. Despite all that apparent talent and actual experience, writing a book--at least a good book--is hard, very hard. It takes a long time, a lot of effort, a sense of organization, and a dedications to one’s readers that is hard to describe. They say everyone has a book in his/her head. Yeah, well, come and see me when you’ve got something on paper, and not just the first three chapters!
My April 1 release, THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, took months to write and self-edit. (I have a system that is fairly complex, but it works for me: reading for a single facet, like characterization, and then reading again for a different facet, like sensory detail). When I had done what I could for the time being, I had a couple of friends read the story. They loved the premise, the fun I had mixing life with afterlife. That was good, but they had suggestions, too, so I read it again, taking my friends’ comments into serious consideration. Then I asked my son to read the manuscript, because the setting is an investments firm and he is in that business. I wanted to make sure I didn’t say something dumb about a business I don’t have much experience with. That meant more changes, reading through the whole thing again, and fixing areas he commented on.
Once the book was accepted by a publisher, it went through several more editions. The first editor and I haggled over terms (are they “slacks” or “pants” nowadays?) At her suggestion I expanded some characters and minimized others. She wanted more information on the setting, Grand Rapids, Michigan, so I had to do more research to make sure the details I added were correct. She helped me clarify my portrayal of the afterlife at the beginning of the book so the reader would not be confused later about what can and can’t happen there. All in all, that was three more edits, three more times through the story with a pen and a microscope.
Then the “big” editor took a turn through the book. She made suggestions to further clarify details. She asked questions about what my intentions were in certain spots. In short, she fine-tuned the book so that the humor comes through better and the reader doesn't feel left behind.
Finally, the copy editor had me take a last look through to find the itsy-bitsy things that drive readers crazy: punctuation/spelling errors, extra spaces, etc.
Now the book is ready for release. My publisher, who has been very supportive, arranged a Cyber-Launch on Author Island (authorisland.com: stop by and ask a question or make a comment!) for April 1. She also found a respected reviewer willing to read a book by a fairly unknown author, and the review is positive (YAY!). My part is to tell the world I have contact with about the book, hence a Blog Tour, a Facebook ad, and lots of trips/mailings to bookstores, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So where is this life of ease? Writing is work, real work, and promoting is work piled on top of the original work. Authors do not have it easy, although I don’t know a single one who doesn’t feel that it’s all worth it when just one person says, “I loved your book.”
People often ask me what it takes to get published. Unless you already have a platform (some sort of fame attached to your name), it takes persistence: persistence to write the best book you are capable of, persistence to get it published professionally, and persistence in spreading the word that, among the million others out there, there’s this great little mystery called THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY.
THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY is available in print or e-book form at
http://www.ll-publications.com/deaddetectiveagency.html and will soon be at most e-book retailers.
Teaser: Tori Van Camp awakens one morning on a cruise ship. She seems to be a welcome guest, and the ships offers anything she might require or request. But why does she have a clear memory of being murdered, and how can she find out why someone wanted her dead?
“The Dead Detective Agency combines belief in the afterlife with the paradoxical uncertainty of survival in the present, and is full of wickedly dark humor combined with regular laugh-out-loud moments.” —Sam Millar, New York Journal of Books
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Survivor: Celebrity Redemption Island to feature Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, Jesse James and Charlie Sheen
Or better yet, Survivor: Celebrity Redumbtion Island.
I foresee two tribes, headed by Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen...
Team Woods: Tiger, Mel Gibson, Russell Hantz...
Team Sheen: Charlie, Jesse James, Chris Brown...Lindsay Lohan--oh, wait! She's not a guy...
Ok, TMZ, help me out here. I need more bad guys to add to these teams. Any suggestions???
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Here's a guy who tried to show his love for his latest girlfriend, but it all went up in flames. http://www.truecrimereport.com/2010/12/leonard_spagnolo_stupid_boyfri.php#more
Here are the 21 dumbest criminals. My fave being the author. And no I've never truly committed any crimes I've written about.
A top ten list of dumb criminals. My favorite is the winner.
I could probably go on for days, but I'll leave you with this one.
In the early 1950s, a woman in Germany went to court and asked for a divorce from the brute she had unfortunately married. She told the judge that her chief pleasure in life came from reading detective novels. Every time she brought home a new one, her husband would write the name of the murderer at the head of Chapter 1. She got the divorce.
Taken from The Compleat Practical Joker by H. Allen Smith 1953
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Angel Lost is now available on Amazon as a trade paperback--and can be ordered by any local bookstore.
As thrilling as it is to have a new book out, now my real work begins. (Not easy since I'm also working on another book in my other series.)
I'm beginning a book tour starting here today
I'll also be headed that day to give a talk to the Ridgewriters at Ridgecrest CA--the home of China Lake Naval Air Station. I love this group and I'm thrilled to be seeing and visiting with them again.
My official in-person book launch isn't until the last Saturday of the month at a small used book store--Books Off Main--in Porterville.
I loved writing this book. One of the plot lines was suggested by a police officer friend I met through PSWA and another came from something that actually happened in the next town from mine--the appearance of an angel in a store window.
So off I go on another wild ride.